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Reaseheath Vertical Farming Centre

Reaseheath College

Reaseheath Vertical Farming Centre

Reaseheath College

Vertical farming is a relatively new but increasingly important method of food production where growing units are stacked vertically, and temperature, light, humidity, CO2, nutrients and water are precisely supplied to growing plants under carefully controlled conditions. Vertical farming systems are data driven and use technologies such as LED lighting, hydroponic/aeroponic growing systems, robotics, automated environmental and nutrient control, and enhanced biosecurity, to optimise crop production.

Vertical farming systems can increase yields by up to 200% compared with traditional glasshouse operations. They allow produce to be grown in urban locations and on demand, contribute to food security (at a time of climate change and extreme weather events), reduce the footprint of production facilities (compared with glass houses/polytunnels), and can reduce fresh food waste by up to 90%.

There is estimated to be 700+ production horticulture businesses in the northwest, employing over 6,000 workers. An ageing workforce and recruiting/retaining staff skilled and competent in using digital and advanced systems/technologies, are real challenges.

The Reaseheath Vertical Farming Centre will grow a variety of salads, herbs and high value plants, including nutraceuticals, superfoods and phytonutrient-rich specialist crops. It will have sufficient scale, and will use technology, systems and processes, that are relevant to employers’ operations, supporting career progression and ensuring that the training and education provided has real value and impact.

Geographical area

Reaseheath College, Nantwich, Cheshire.   The equipment and facilities are located at Reaseheath College. There are no mobile facilities.

Technologies / Equipment

  • A total growing surface of around 200m2, created through 3- and 4-tier units with “trays” 2-4m x 1m
  • Each tier has LED lighting, with a hydroponic/aeroponic irrigation and nutrient system, and temperature control. Sensors
  • Data capture, processing, management and utilisation Centre

Skills being developed

  • Training, education and skills provision relating to automation, robotics and data management and use
  • New programmes of learning, bespoke training packages, CPD and workshops, and virtual and remote learning material, around around systems engineering (electrical, lighting, environmental control, irrigation, nutrition etc), cultivation, crop management, data collection and analysis, and biosecurity, to meet current and future needs of industry

Contact: Sharon Yates 

Sharon.Yates@reaseheath.ac.uk

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Cheshire and Warrington